Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Contra Costa Times Blows it! False Reports on Isleton Cajun Festival.

By Steven Masone

The Delta News & Review has learned that John Barrett. spokesman for the State Franchise Tax Board has "back pedaled" from quotes originating in the Contra Costa Times. The Times reported him saying;   "We are always actively searching for assets to seize. It could be an action for us to take," California Franchise Tax Board spokesman John Barrett said.

The Times further reported:.Adding to the confusion, the right to the Crawdad Festival name was sold to a horse ranch near Red Bluff that plans to boil the critters for a fire department fundraiser the same weekend Isleton rekindles its event.The tax board revoked the Isleton chamber's authority after the group's previous leaders, headed by real estate agent Charli Hand, failed to file paperwork with the Secretary of State's Office and also failed to file its 2007, 2008 and 2009 income tax returns, Barrett said.

But today in a phone interview, John barrett said, "The chamber is in good standing, and have the proper filings with the Secretary of State."

This is a reversal of previous quotes by the Contra Costa Times, and it looks like both parties failed to do proper investigations.

The Times headline read: Isleton restarts iconic festival, but is it legal?  by Roman Gokhman

Apparently Mr. Gokhman did not thoroughly  check his facts, and caused Festival vendors and potential attendees to doubt that the festival  would take place. Reservations at area  businesses have slowed down, and no doubt some damage has been done where some have made reservations elsewhere.

But in the Newspaper Business, the "buck stops at the city desk" the Editor is the captain that goes down with the ship, and the entire Publishing group that owns the Times, in good faith ran the story in all of their affiliates. A retraction in all of them is definitely in order, and additional promotion would  be a good idea also.

The story seemed to embolden the Red Bluff folks who bought the festival from the previous Chamber and Isleton leaders who "cheap sold" to them.

They are now using the new " Isleton Cajun Festival" name also. Coincidently, Charli Hand of the previous Isleton Chamber and her husband work for the new owners in Red Bluff. There is talk of asking the Attorney General to investigate the sale, and if improprieties of kick backs or renumeration (like job offers) are found, Isleton may get it all back and damages.

 Edward Stevens of Herald Publications and Web World Media, is the investigative reporter who interviewed Mr. Barrett. Stevens is credited for many 'exposes' that in the past generated international press attention. Stevens said, "definitely some strange bedfellows in this mix."   Interesting to find out if any other "charitable recipients will be making money at the Red Bluff Ranch, Horse and Crawfish feed. (tic)

Other "Times" inflammatory content stated;  But Barrett contended that no chamber of commerce can operate in Isleton right now. "As of this moment in time, they are still suspended," he said. The 2008 festival left the chamber in debt, and it could not make the payments for permits from the city's police and fire departments, Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans.

This was true of the previous Chamber, The New Chamber had all their t's crossed and their i's dotted weeks ago, whereas the Times editorial staff dropped the ball in their fact finding.

"Mr Barrett concedes the  Isleton Chamber was in all likelihood legal when the story broke several day's ago," Stevens said. "My Editors would have sent me packing had I ever turned in a sourceless piece like that."

"And I agree, Bay Area Media group
 needs to do major damage control to erase what harm was done to Isleton." said Stevens.

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